First Nebraska win in Gavitt Games series earns Miles 100th victory

November 16, 2018

LINCOLN — Tim Miles sat on the scorers table, one leg wrapped around the other, arms crossed, and stared at the refs.

Miles, ever the talker, was silent Wednesday. The crowd, on the other hand, was furious in what would eventually become an 80-57 Nebraska win against Seton Hall.

A foul was called on Isaiah Roby — his fourth — after the junior tossed a pass to James Palmer at the top of the key, put up his hands and walked into a defender. He was whistled for an illegal screen.

Pinnacle Bank Arena didn’t like that. Neither did Miles, who in less-than-delicate terms screamed from his coaches box his disagreement. That didn’t go over well with officials, who gave Miles a technical.

And to exacerbate the anger inside the arena further, a ref’s whistle that was hooked to the clock and was supposed to stop the clock didn’t. So all three refs huddled around the scorers table and rewatched the foul, over and over, while 13,000 in PBA screamed.

A minute went by. Then two, the scoreboard stuck with a 44-40 Nebraska lead with 13:44 left against Seton Hall.

Miles sat in silence and cooled off. His team stood at midcourt. The coach ran through scenarios in his head.

“There was this long pause, and sometimes you worry,” Miles said.

Turns out, he didn’t need to.

Two seconds were taken off the clock, and Seton Hall scored to pull within 44-42. Then on NU’s first possession after the delay, Palmer buried a 3 from the wing. Then Isaac Copeland hit a jumper from the elbow, then Glynn Watson threw a no-look pass to the corner in front of the Nebraska bench to Thomas Allen. He canned a 3-pointer.

Watson ran back on defense holding up 3s on his fingers. Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard called a timeout.

Nebraska took a nine-point lead and never looked back, outscoring Seton Hall 36-15 after the Pirates had pulled within two.

“I think we just stayed together,” senior guard Watson said. “I think we showed we can come back and make our run.”

Nebraska (3-0) got its first résumé-building win of the year on the back of Palmer and a gritty defense that held Seton Hall to 2 for 16 from 3-point range. After missing his first eight shots, Palmer finished with 29 points, six rebounds and two assists. Midway through the second half, Palmer gave up on his jumper and started to put his head down and drive.

“I just wanted to stay aggressive,” said Palmer, who got to the line 18 times, making 13 free throws.

Copeland had an efficient 18 points on 11 shots and posted a double-double with 10 rebounds. Watson led NU with eight assists to go with 14 points and three rebounds. Roby spent much of the game in foul trouble, picking up two quick ones in the first four minutes and a third early in the second half. A violent alley-oop and a garbage-time 3 gave him seven points with four rebounds.

Seton Hall, meanwhile, shot 35.6 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 14 times.

Leading scorer Myles Powell had 24 points, but it took 21 shots to get there. Miles credited Watson for bothering Powell all night.

“He’s a great scorer,” Watson said. “He moves a lot without the ball, and you always have to move with him.”

Nebraska went into halftime up 33-27 and kept Seton Hall at arm’s reach for most of the game. That was until a 7-0 run, which included the technical foul, cut the Pirates’ deficit to 44-42.

That’s when the run began.

In the past few weeks, Miles has talked about some of his worries with this team. The shooting, the lack of a vocal leader, how casual the team is in general.

But his team overcame all three of those in 13:44 of game time Wednesday and gave him his 100th win as Nebraska coach. The leaders showed up with their play down the stretch, the shots came in the paint and from 3 when needed, and the business-like mentality of his team helped cocoon it during the chaos of the three-minute delay.

“I love these guys. I just really like coaching these guys,” Miles said. “What I feel comfort with is they show up every day to work. There’s not really this change of demeanor. They know what needs to be done.”

Said Palmer: “Tonight, we just handled business.”

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